Today's Veterinary Business

OCT 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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59 October/November 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM don't get better. They seem more understanding about the challeng- es of diabetes than they do the chal- lenges of atopy. Having a diagnosis shrinks your therapeutic options as well. You can make a pet feel better with symptomatic care. You can make a client feel better with symp- tomatic care — for a while. With a confirmed diagnosis, the client can go online and Goo- gle the diagnosis and not a symp- tom. And when you can discuss a specific diagnosis, you can shrink the treatment options and focus on educating the client about the long- and short-term implications of the disease. Get Total Buy-In Your team must be a part of skin cases. Hold staff meetings to discuss skin conditions, fleas, ticks, infections, fungal issues. Share the results of testing through cultures or whatever you use to get to the bottom of a problem. Send staff members home with the dermato- logic products you want to dis- pense and have them report back on the effectiveness. Your team members can be advocates and storytellers for products that you sell, but only if they try the prod- ucts first. If team members aren't happy with an outcome, they can help keep your inventory under control as well. Since your staff will be going over the products with clients, they need to know everything about the treatment: how to apply and how often, what to look for if it is work- ing or not, when to call your clinic. Have your well-educated staff hand out business cards showing your clinic's phone number and email address so clients can easily report problems or ask questions. The pet store doesn't do this. PetMed Express won't do it. Be in control and give clients an expe- rience they can't get elsewhere. Have your staff lead the way, but educate them first. Know What to Say Part of the education is the cre- ation of scripts or talking points. The conversation might include: • "This product is not available in the pet store because it includes the strongest ingredients available for this condition." • "I have used this on my own dog. It was a miracle." • "The pet store doesn't really have medicated products. It may sell some natural products, but the severity of the condition warrants and requires a veterinarian-pre- scribed medication." • "We can do the first bath for you since we use the prod- ucts here, and then you can continue at home." • "The products we sell and support come with the back- ing of our team and doctors. That alone is invaluable and not available online." • "We offer only the products that we find most effective for this condition." Know What to Stock Too much inventory is not too good. Research into consumer buying shows that too many choices is detrimental to decision-making. The internet can be more confusing than your practice be- cause of this. How- ever, better choices mean fewer choices. Veterinary- specific products might come with a higher unit price, but if you keep your markups under control, the products can easily compete with over-the-counter choices. Better for you to make a dollar than the internet getting it. Know What to Endorse In many dermatologic cases, we have too many options for treating the symptoms. Diets, shampoos, topicals and supplements are just a few of the non-prescription resourc- es that your hospital has to offer and that the internet has as well. To stay in control of the client and patient experience, you have to position yourself as the expert in patient care. You have to identify the one product you have found to be most effective. And if this is a veterinary-specific product, even better. What helps is when the prod- ucts you offer are used on patients admitted for bathing, are used by your employees on their pets, and are readily available and competi- tively priced. Know What to Charge Which is better, making $5 net on a product sale or $0 net on a product sold by somebody else? You net zero every time a client goes on the internet or visits a pet store to buy a product you carry. Veterinary pricing in many cas- es has driven consumers to look for competitive sources of shampoos, additives and food. And in some cases when they can't find the ex- act product you want to dispense, they buy a less-effective knockoff. Set up your online store to provide you with a net for your product sales and thus a price that is competitive. Again, what is bet- ter than nothing? Something. Don't shoot me when I sug- gest that you offer a money-back guarantee. If a product doesn't work, have the owner return it for a refund. I would bet that most of your vendors would support this 100 percent. The pet store and on - line merchant likely won't do it. If you want to be different, think and act differently. Know How to Be Different Try saying this: "We know it is not easy to stop by here whenever you need something. You can use our online store or just let us know, and then we can mail what you need." We are in the experience era. How can you create the client expe- rience for dermatologics? A clinic's online store allows competitive pricing, the convenience of order- ing at any hour and home delivery. Have you considered a sub- scription service? If you know the client will administer a product for months on end, why not set up an auto-delivery program and discount it? You can truly improve compliance through convenience and competitive pricing. This works for over-the-counter, veterinary channel and prescription products. Education, Price and Service The ideas above only scratch the surface when it comes to staying in control of treating skin condi- tions. Each individual thought can make a difference, but using them together will stop you from pull- ing your hair out and keep your patients from chewing theirs. The differentiators in keeping skin in the skin game are education, price and service. The more your team knows and the more your cli- ents understand, the more likely a pet owner will believe in your prod- ucts. The more you create a great experience and a value to support your pricing, the more likely your products will be the first choice. Dr. Peter Weinstein owns PAW Consulting and is executive director of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association. Since your staff will be going over the products with clients, they need to know everything about the treatment: how to apply and how often, what to look for if it is working or not, when to call your clinic.

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